Packed away in my attic in a box in a box in a box lies a Christmas ornament I received as a very little girl. I cannot remember a year it didn’t hang somewhere on my family’s tree. The spun sugar globe, adorned with a red ribbon, has a clear plastic window that allows you to peek inside at the miniature snow scene within.
When viewed from a distance, it invokes nostalgia. When seen up close it invokes the sense that its halcyon days are well past. The cheap, overly bright ribbon is threadbare and frayed, its ability to support the weight of the ornament questionable. The back looks as if it has been misshapen by the years in the box. But no. It is flat because I used to sneak quietly, when no one was looking, and lick it, my soft child’s tongue insistently rasping the sugar, wearing it down layer by molecular layer.
Its appearance is ratty enough and I recall its lure vividly enough that it has not graced our tree since we’ve have children old enough to be able to hear the siren call of sugar. But as the season approaches, I think about all that I saw when I peered inside; as the little girl I once was, the young woman I became, the adolescent I thankfully left behind.
What image does your child see when they peer inside their own personal globes? What collections, physical or emotional, do we curate for our children? Are they the smart one? Athletic one? Artistic one? Clumsy one? What messages do they gather from us and store in the attics of their minds, to be replayed and reinforced year after year?
Our tree is bedecked with angels and santas, as each year our children receive a new ornament to add to their burgeoning collections. Eleanor accrues angels, and I wonder, do we adequately acknowledge her devilish grins? Cole’s assembly of santas imply being jolly and good, does he know we love his Evel Knievel side, too?
As we rush into a season of copious buying and generous giving and boisterous celebrating, we need to remember the contributions we make to the treasury of children’s hearts. Taking quiet, small moments not to do anything, but to simply be with our children, to call to the collection of their whole selves. What will you say? Keep me posted.